Date: 22nd June, 2020
Today, in the high court, a full day hearing ruled to raise a sudden interim injunction over vast areas of land in the Colne Valley, to prevent the legal right to protest against the controversial HS2 works.
Justice Holland, ruling on his third case against peaceful protest in the Colne Valley, judged in favour of a “Substantive Amendment Application, submitted just days before by HS2, to extend an existing injunction to control a much larger area of land, public rights of way, and countryside, including parts of Denham Country Park.
HS2 has not provided proof of ownership of much of this land and the limited time before the hearing prohibited defendants and witnesses from submitting evidence to argue against the new areas being included. The interim injunction will face a full hearing in August, by which time HS2 will have decimated much of the land.
Sarah Green, Hillingdon Green Party and local Uxbridge Resident: “This is the first time an injunction has been put on the nature reserve, and they have gone for the heart of it at Denham Country Park. It’s priority habitat, its wet-woodland, it is teeming with life. How can they put a sudden interim injunction without hearing evidence. They are chainsawing trees everyday. What will be left in six weeks?”
HS2 contractors have been unnecessarily ripping up woodland in Denham Country Park, during nesting season, to make way for a temporary hall road, to transport an electricity pylon, when other alternate delivery routes exist.
Mark Keir, Harvil Road wildlife protection camp, said: “HS2 ltd is using injunctions to silence peaceful protestors by way of intimidation. HS2 is known to be corrupt, to utilise illegal practices and to strip perfectly law-abiding citizens of their property and inheritance. This injunction stifles our right to freedom of speech and also reduces the accountability of HS2. It seems yet again that HS2 are above the law and that they are at liberty to pick their judge of choice. We have to start asking how far this corruption goes. We need people to be aware of just how dire this situation is and of the impact for generations to come.”
Thirty defendants, campaigning against HS2, were named in the proceedings and could be liable for costs. Alongside the decision of the injunction extension there should have been the opportunity for named defendants to have their name removed from the injunction. Statements were given but not deliberated and not a single defendant was given the opportunity for their name to be removed, despite there being no concrete evidence against them.
Their strong arguments against HS2, as an environmentally damaging and costly project that the majority of the UK does not want, did not register with the judge, who gave scant regard for pleas from defendants that theirs is a peaceful protest despite aggression from HS2 and the National Eviction Team. HS2’s increased security presence around these areas and shutting down of public pathways and rights of way is severely detrimental to the local residents.
This is the latest in a raft of injunctions preventing peaceful protest against HS2. The hearing for Hillingdon council’s injunction over some of the same areas of land is imminent. Injunctions have been used in Warwickshire to enable mass felling of ancient woodlands in nesting seasons, despite HS2s promises to the Woodland Trust that no felling would take place before Autumn this year. Other areas have also been threatened with injunctions.
The Harvil Road wildlife protection camp has been onsite for three years defending the land and water, and repeatedly raising concerns over the impact of HS2 works. HS2 risk contaminating drinking water for millions of people by drilling hundreds of piles into a delicate chalk aquifer and is avoiding scrutiny by refusing Freedom of Information requests about groundwater assessments.